Rakuten Advertising held DealMaker USA in person for the first time in two years from June 27th through June 29th, 2022 with the theme “doing business shouldn’t be this much fun.” We beat all previous in-person records with nearly 800 people making the trip to Austin, Texas to stay at the Omni Barton Creek Resort for the exciting networking event! These attendees included top advertisers, publishers and agencies from across the globe who got together to prove that deal-making shouldn’t be this much fun. Spoiler alert, it was!

For the first time ever, the event was held over three days and included a jam-packed schedule of networking, great food and fun. Some of the exciting events included:

Birthday Party After Shots

  • The Golden Link Awards
  • DealSpace & Rakuten Advertising’s 25th Birthday Party
  • Keynote featuring Radha Agrawal, Founder of DayBreaker
  • DealMaker After Party on Wednesday

In between these events, our client partners pre-scheduled more than 1000 meetings to make some serious deals and hosted several impactful content sessions ranging from expanding into the Canadian market and influencer strategies to affiliate compliance for financial institutions. Here are some highlights from this year’s DealMaker:

Golden Link Awards

GLA Highlights

Our Golden Link Awards were hosted Monday, June 27th by comedian Atsuko Okatsuka. There were more than 70 companies short-listed and 14 outstanding winners from the event! Read more about the full list of winners and those short-listed here. Congratulations to all!!

Key Insights in Executive Remarks

Our Executive Remarks kicked off with Chief Revenue Officer Jeff Wender speaking on the ever-changing world of affiliate marketing. Wender spoke to the key insights and trends that have contributed to the continued success of our network. Afterwards, Managing Director of North America Anthony Capano took the stage to speak to our rapidly growing network and to make an exciting announcement.

Rakuten Advertising will be partnering with leading influencer marketing platform Mavrck to expand our influencer marketing services for our clients! This partnership will allow Rakuten Advertising to continue to push the boundaries of affiliate marketing and provide outstanding service to our client partners. and provide outstanding service to our client partners.

Large group of people dance on stage

The Power of Community with Radha Agrawal

Radha Agrawal, co-founder, CEO and Chief Community Architect of Daybreaker, took the stage to speak to the power of community and genuine human connection. She led a powerful conversation around finding community and held a “mini-breaker” with our attendees, getting them dancing on stage! Attendees left feeling inspired and ready to take on a full day of meetings and networking.

Industry Panel Discussions

Attendees had the opportunity to hear from a variety of unique panels about a range of topics, from travel and finance to influencer strategies. This allowed attendees to not only listen, but participate in conversation with innovative brands looking to make a change.

Finance Trends: Fad or Future?

With new entrants to the industry such as cryptocurrency and neo-banks, companies are wondering what new trends are worth investing in. Our panelists discussed this influx of new banking models, financial trends and what is here to stay. While these new avenues might seem risky, our panelists see them as a way to diversify their partner mix in the face of economic turbulence and to keep competitive.

  • Moderated by: Andrew Davidson, SVP and Chief Insight Officer at Mintel
  • Patrick Hook, Vice President at Wells Fargo
  • Eric Wellner, General Manager of Credit Cards at Lending Tree
  • John Maas, Vice President of Marketing at Quontic Bank

SVP and Chief Insight Officer of Mintel, Andrew Davidson, wrote an insightful blog post detailing key insights from the Finance Trends: Fad or Future? Panel. Read his take on the status of these emerging finance trends!

Going Global

Globalization is arguably one of the most important business trends happening now, especially when thinking of the affiliate industry. Our panelists tackled how to tactically “think global, act local” with new partners and full-funnel strategies, how to handle breaking into a new region without local knowledge, and some of the unique shopping innovations that they see in certain APAC markets that will be the new shopping frontier. Josephine Nieh of 55Haitao focused on the Chinese innovation of live stream shopping and when it might begin to pop up in the US and EU.

  • Moderated by: Megan Taylor, Director of Client Services at Rakuten Advertising
  • Tom Pawley, Global Affiliate Marketing Manager at MATCHESFASHION
  • Patricia Marange, Head of Affiliate Marketing at NEO Media World
  • Josephine Nieh, Head of Affiliate at 55Haitao

Oh Canada!

The fast growth of our Canadian network continues to excite advertisers, publishers, agencies and Rakuten insiders. Three publisher panelists shared their best practices and advice for entering the Canadian affiliate space and how to optimize with in-market partners and consumers.

“My goal for this session was to bring three different voices to the stage to help our audience members learn something substantial about growing a new or existing program into this country that I call home. We not only satisfied that goal, we crushed it! We had great audience participation, questions, and I’m excited to see what comes from this session.” – Krysta Gutteridge, Senior Director of Business Development in our Canadian Market.

  • Moderated by: Krysta Gutteridge, Senior Director of Business Development at Rakuten Advertising
  • Erin Kerr, Senior Account Manager of Strategic Brand Partnerships at Flip Give
  • Andrew Noonan, Loyalty and Performance Based Partnerships at Air Canada
  • Ben Stein, Client Partnerships at Capital One Shopping

Travel: Booked & Confirmed

Travel has been on everyone’s minds as the ultimate reward for making it through the past two turbulent years, but there are a myriad of factors still plaguing the travel industry – inflation, high gas prices, and new Covid variants. Our panel addressed these concerns and shared how their companies are managing to succeed, despite some of today’s challenges.

  • Moderated by: Dave Gill, Vice President of Consumer Insights at Rakuten Advertising
  • Rebecca Rosen, Lead of Advertising and Brand at Jet Blue Travel Products
  • Mark Jackson, Channel Manager of Personal Finance and Travel at Brad’s Deals
  • Grimur Gislason, Director of North America at IcelandAir

The New World of Performance Marketing

This session discussed some opportunities and challenges facing the modern marketer in this “new world” of performance marketing. Marketers today face an ever-evolving landscape that encompasses many fragmented mediums (such as CTV, Audio, and Digital Out of Home, to mention a few) where coveted audiences consume media and spend time. This industry-leading panel called out many ways in which marketers, solution providers and industry associations are in the trenches with advertisers figuring out attribution, optimal budget allocation, measurement, and what to do when the cookie finally crumbles.

  • Moderated by: Yomi Arokoyo, Vice President of Performance Solutions at Rakuten Advertising
  • Adam Silverblatt, GM of Business Development at The Trade Desk
  • Jeffrey Bustos, VP of Programmatic and Data Center at IAB
  • Adam Rodrigues, Senior Manager of eCommerce and Online Sales at Camp Chef

The Power of Influence

Following our announcement with Mavrck, this panel discussed the opportunities and challenges of connecting brands with creators though the affiliate channel. This group addressed burning questions such as payout structure and expectations, how to work collaboratively with other marketing channels for joint goals, how TikTok sees the future of their platform and how to help advertisers make the most of their spend.

  • Moderated by: Mike McNerney, Publisher at Martech Record
  • Garland Hill, Head of Growth Business at TikTok
  • Jessy Klein Fofana, Founder and CEO of LaRue PR LLC
  • Erica Yang, Fouonder and CEO of Real Hype

DealSpace & Networking

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DealMaker is all about making deals and connections, and it was successful! There were three days filled with opportunities to schedule one-on-one meetings through our DealMaker Pathable app. In fact, our attendees scheduled more than 1000 meetings in those three days!

DealSpace, a dedicated area for showcasing partners, was another opportunity for participants to connect with each other. More than 25 companies were present, as well as plenty of networking, laughter, and even a few cocktails, proving that doing business is that much fun!

We want to give a huge thank you to our superior events team, Sara Gorlick, Krystyna Lijek, Megan Pierce, Kayla Maley, and Izzy Harris, for all the hard work that they put into making this year’s DealMaker USA a roaring success – we couldn’t achieve this amazing success without you!

To stay up to date on upcoming Rakuten Advertising events, check our our events page.